Terracotta Court Lady from the Tang Dynasty


A finely modelled hollow-mould Chinese Tang terracotta statuette depicting a court lady, portrayed here facing forwards in a graceful and relaxed stance. The figure is shown wearing an elegant long robe, concealing her hands which are held together to her chest, holding a plate of offerings. Facial features, such as the eyes, lips, nose, and eyebrows are picked out by delicate painting. The white colour of her face and the red pigment on the figure’s lips reflect the traditional court makeup, which enjoyed great popularity during Tang Dynasty. Her heavily painted eyebrows are made out as low as the Chinese character eight (Ba). An elaborate coiffure surmounts the face of the ‘Fat Lady’, while her feet are beautifully adorned with sumptuous, upturned shoes. The original pigmentation survives largely intact.


Date: Circa AD 618-906
Period: Tang Dynasty
Condition: Excellent condition. This piece has been thermoluminescence tested, no. 22CM160919, at Laboratory Kotalla.


The ‘Fat Lady’ was a popular figure of the Tang Dynasty, a period which played host to enormous social, political and economic changes, and introduced a great deal of prosperity.  The origin of depictions of ‘Fat Ladies’, with their full figures, elaborate loose robes and stylised hair, have been traced back to the imperial concubine Yang Gui Fei ( AD 719-756), who was believed to be one of the four great beauties of the Tang Dynasty and the most favoured concubine of the Xuanzong emperor ( AD 712-756). The forehead makeup known as ‘Huadian’ which adorns some Fat Lady figures was believed to have been inspired by the story of Princess Shouyang, whose beauty was enhanced by a plum blossom which fell onto her forehead, though others have suggested links with the thriving Buddhist culture of the period.

To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.

Weight 3600 g
Dimensions L 17 x W 15 x H 50 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


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